“How do you figure?” There’s genuine curiosity in August’s voice.

“You’re united in parenthood. You have a history. You don’t seem to be mad at her for keeping me away from you anymore. And I know you respect her because you’ve told me so. You think she’s been an amazing mom to me, so I don’t understand why you can’t simply take her out for a good time. She deserves it.”

God, I love my kid. He’s out there advocating for me in all the ways I don’t have the guts to do for myself. I’d rather sit in my own safe little bubble—let August come to his own determination as to what he wants because that’s far safer than putting myself out there only to have him tell me he’s not interested in a relationship.

Swiftly moving away from the window, I pull the vacuum cleaner along behind me. I don’t need to listen anymore. Partly because I don’t want to invade my son’s privacy, and I have a feeling he would not want me to know he was advocating on my behalf. But also because I don’t want to hear what August has to say about it. It has the potential to shred me.

I put the vacuum cleaner in the mudroom, then head over to the dryer to pull out the sheets I washed earlier. I’m going to make up my room for his parents to stay in. August had said they would gladly stay in a hotel, but I think it’s ridiculous when I can easily share a room with Sam.

My arm starts to go numb, a byproduct of Sam having fallen asleep on me over half an hour ago. Shifting in the bed, I ease my arm out from underneath him. I gently roll him until he faces the other direction, then pull the covers up to his shoulders. He’s out like a light, which is definitely a consequence of his illness. Since undergoing the chemo and the stem cell transplant, he’s slept more deeply than he has in his entire life. I even asked his doctors about it on a recent checkup, but they just said his body needs the sleep to help recuperate. So when Sam says he wants to go to sleep at seven PM, I don’t question it. If he wants to sleep in late, I let him.

I reach over and nab my phone from the bedside table, flipping to my Kindle app to pull up a book to read. It’s far too early for me to go to sleep.

Settling in, I quickly immerse myself in a world of alpha vampires and sassy heroines. Reading romance has been a sustainable pleasure of mine over the years, a stopgap measure to replace what I’ve been desperately missing in my life.

My quiet interlude is interrupted by the doorknob turning. When I glance over, August pokes his head into the room. I can’t quite see his face because the only illumination is from my phone, but his voice floats across the darkness.

“Why are you sleeping in here?” he asks softly.

“I put fresh sheets on my bed for your parents today, so…”

My words trail off as I recall all the ways we’d dirtied those sheets up last night.

He’s silent a moment, but then he asks, “You got a minute to talk?”

“Sure,” I whisper, swinging my legs out of the bed. I realize I’m wearing a tank top and sleep shorts. There’s no way I can walk out of the room dressed like this since my dad could be out there.

“Your dad’s down in the basement. You’re fine.”

What the hell? Is he a mind reader?

As I pad to the door, he steps out into the hallway. I still make sure to peer to the left through to the living room and the basement door to make sure it’s closed. It appears safe enough.

I pull the door shut behind me, then cross my arms. “What’s up?”

He doesn’t respond, merely grabs my arm and directs me down the hallway toward his room. I don’t think to pull against him, fearing he must need some type of privacy. He walks me right into his room, then closes the door behind us.

Then his mouth is on mine, and he’s spinning me. Somehow, I get pinned between his big body and the door.

Now it’s clear why he wanted me.


It’s a good thing I’m always willing to give it to him. My hands wrap around his neck. Just before I let myself sink under his full spell, I tell myself, This is all it will ever be, Leighton. Accept it.

August slants his mouth across mine, his kiss raw and needy. He pulls me away from the door, spins me again, and then continues to kiss me as he urges me backward toward the bed.

When my legs hit the edge of it, he pulls his lips away and yanks my tank top over my head.

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